The final buzzer rang off in Maryland’s Cole Field House basketball court. Many watched a game of Texas Western Miners and Kentucky Wildcats on March 19th, 1966, and yet most didn’t realize they just witnessed sports ethics redefine itself. It was a championship, an all or nothing statement for the players of Texas Western. The coach of the Miners, Don Haskins, had just won the NCAA title with five African American starters. They won a mere sports game, but it would prove to be much more than that. A hero of integration, Haskins revolutionized college basketball by the way he indentified a player, by skill and not color.
The 1960’s was a time of many cultural controversies that aspired to what America is today. It was not only about Vietnam, the hippie escapades, or the latest eight-track of the Beatles. The decade has been dubbed the civil rights era. Culture was starting to see African American integration from the help of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. However not all heroes are recognized immediately, and Don Haskins, whether he planned it or not, helped pave the way to equality in sports.
Before Haskins started to coach at Texas Western, the college recruited and played African Americans when it was typical for teams to have full-white roster and oppose integration into basketball (Schecter, 1998). No one imagined the day when five blacks would start at a pre-dominantly white college. Many whites actually did not want to have African Americans on their team at all in fear that it would cause integration through all civil aspects. Frank. Fritzpatrick, author of And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, concurs, “When Negroes and whites meet on the athletic fields on a basis of complete equality, it is only natural that this sense of equality carries into the daily living of these people” (1999). Once they got on the court, the blacks were still held back and treated unfairly. One of the seven black Miner...
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